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It couldn't be happening again.

Liv Olney gripped the edge of the desk and leaned forward to watch the jumpy video footage. The smoke cleared in front of the Amadanian school in Central Africa, revealing a car still in flames in the street. Soldiers poured through the opening in the school's courtyard wall, guns at the ready across their chests.

Guns, soldiers, children. A blood-chilling combination.

She pinched her nose against the remembered scent of smoke, of blood, closed her eyes against the brilliance of the flames. Her breath came faster as memories tumbled through the wall she'd so carefully constructed.

Spitting gunfire, almost innocuous sounding pops. Smoke filling the hospital, feet running past her -- friend or foe? -- as she slipped an oxygen mask over her patient. A hand wrapping around her ponytail, jerking her back and she stared into hateful black eyes.

And now her best friend was teaching in that school, subjected to that horror. She opened her eyes and unclenched her fists, looking around to see if anyone noticed her rapid breathing, her flushed face. She couldn't let anyone see her weakness, or they would remove her from this situation, and she couldn't allow that.

Jill, who had been there for her when she'd returned from her own nightmare, needed her.

Behind her in the darkened war room in the bowels of the Pentagon, she heard the murmur of voices, low and urgent, discussing the demands that had arrived with the videotape: Remove the peacekeeping troops from the ports where they were working to reduce arms-smuggling, or the hostages would start dying.

Line the pockets of the madman Wamukota or people would die.

As a matter of policy, I don't handle any books dealing with terrorism or terrorists. It's not a principal, I don't think those books are bad or evil or should be banned. I just choose not to deal with them.

In the months and years after 9/11every person, not only here in NYC, but everywhere had to figure out how to deal with the new world. Some people deal with it by writing books wherein the terrorists die, the good guys prevail and a sense of justice is restored. Nothing wrong with that at all

I can't do that however. I'm still taken aback by the sight of military men carrying automatic weapons in the subways despite the fact I see them often. I'm still unnerved by the signs that large packs, bags and purses are subject to search on the trains. I can't look at old movies that show the WTC without crying even though I feel stupid.

I deal with that by not reading this type of work. Not for the agency, not in other books.

As writers, that can't deter you from writing what you need to write. You're dealing with things in your way. You'll get some rejections from people who are dealing with things as I am, but there will be others who can look at your work objectively. You'll just have to work a little harder to find them.


pina_la_nina said...

It's hard to know what genre we're in here so I'm having trouble phrasing my comment. Elements seem very Jack Ryan/political action-ish to me (the heroine working for the Pentagon, the possibility that she may go into a war zone to help her friend - not something most average folks have the means to do.)

But it reminded me strongly of watching CNN while Monrovia was invaded in 1990 - my best friend was teaching there and I had no contact with her for months.

I'd read on and hope it was written by someone who'd actually been to Africa and could take us there. I'd also hope things stayed on a real-person level and didn't get too James Bondian.

Molly said...

It doesn't read as if it were written by someone who had actually been to that region of Africa. The description seems too generic.

I was actually thrown out of the narrative by "Central Africa" -- wasn't sure if the description was meant to be so sweeping in geographic scope or if the author had meant to reference the country, CAR.

Nonetheless, I am all for a non-traditional setting, so if the heroine has to run off to rescue her friend in Chad/Cameroon/EQ/CAR, whever, that would be cool. :)

Molly said...

Whever = wherever. :)

(Note to self: Don't watch Animal Planet while typing blog comments.)

Toni Anderson said...

I appreciate your views and ideals, you must deal with your past as best you can--as we all must. However, even though I know 9/11 was a catastrophic day for the western world (and I still tear up when I see the images) it wasn't the beginnings of terrorism for me, or many others. As a Brit I grew up with it, my husband's best friend's father was shot dead on the doorstep of their primary school in Northern Ireland. People all over the world deal with this everyday, so I hope you didn't put the writer off. Unfortunately, this is our reality now.

Hugs--if I'm allowed--terrorism is hard to deal with, and it is a crying shame we have to deal with it at all.

Bernita said...

I don't have much patience with a character in today's world so blindly stupid to think "it couldn't be happening again."